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Iconic Bridal Store to Close at Year End, Donna Cook Announces Retirement

By Sherrie Norris

Donna Cook publicly announced recently via social media that she had decided to retire and would be closing her Boone bridal shop at the end of 2018; immediately, former brides and mothers of brides, both near and far, began responding with comments about their dream (wedding) dresses and how their special occasions would not have been the same without Cook’s assistance.

One of the models she’s worked with in her many fashion shows through the years, said, “My runway career is now over,” to which she responded, “Yes, mine is, too, but that’s OK. It was good while it lasted.”

After nearly three decades as a Boone businesswoman, Donna Cook prepares to close her bridal shop on King Street in Boone.

It was after “much consideration,” Cook said, that she made the decision to retire and bring her iconic shop to its end after a long and successful run in the town of Boone.

Announcing her retirement so far in advance is the right thing to do, she contends, “to ensure all formal wear needs are taken care of for our sweet customers before we close,” adding,“ I want to close my store the same way I do business, with positive vibes, kindness and loyalty to all our wonderful friends and family.

In true Did Someone Say Party? fashion, Cook plans on going out ‘in style’ with a number of special things planned in the coming months, including raffles, giveaways, working with military wives and donating dresses to Joy Prom for those with disabilities. “I want to treat this year with the same sentiment that I’ve operated on all these years. If I can quit crying, I want us to have fun before we end.”

“We will continue to receive our 2018 collections that can be special ordered in your color and size through July 1,” she stressed. “I want to make sure that all of our girls have plenty of time to order their gowns for spring, summer and fall occasions.”

In recalling the nearly three decades of service to local brides, their entire bridal parties and those looking for the perfect party or prom dresses, Cook said she has always considered herself “so fortunate to be the caretaker of this amazing store,” one of which, she added, has been filled daily with laughter, joy and excitement. It also gave her countless opportunities to form lifetime relationships with her customers. “Many of my brides became like family to me,” she said.

It’s bittersweet, she admitted, to recall as she nears her 29th year in business this spring, to have had the pleasure of watching her first brides become mothers “and then to dress their babies for events from first dances to their own wedding days.”

Being part of downtown Boone has been a joy, too, she surmised.“ This community has been very good to me. I believe in our little town and have watched her grow from a sleepy little college town to a thriving business community. Recalling our friendly shop tucked in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, many brides have returned to Boone to purchase their wedding gowns after graduating from Appalachian State.”

Cook cannot imagine a career more fulfilling than working with her customers at their happiest moments, she said. “Through the years, we have been entrusted with so many special occasions that I will always cherish.”

Cook remembers well her early days when she first started working in the business, initially running Parties, Too for Boone Rent-all for nearly a decade, starting in the early ‘80s.

Deciding on needing a career, rather than a job, she started her own business with costumes and wedding supplies before realizing her full potential.

“First, it was working with young girls and their prom dresses, starting with the Jessica Mcclintock line, which I loved,” she said. “Then, I bought the Jessical Mcclintock gunny sack bridal gowns and it just all started falling into place from there. I never looked back.”

Once you help a family and the bridal party with one wedding, then you have their friends and family coming back – and soon, you are outfitting the next generation with their first dance attire . . . and on it goes, she said.

Owning the business has been a blessing, Cook said, but also a lifetime 24/7 commitment.

The fun-filled bridal shop on King Street, Did Someone Say Party? and its owner, Donna Cook, have made countless friends through the years while helping many young women make memories for a lifetime.

“I’ve been awake in the middle of the night trying to remember, did I put that sleeve on that dress? It’s something you never finish. You get one bride taken care of and then the next day you’re back at it again with a new bride and you do the same thing over again. You want to make sure that everything is perfect for each one.”

Acknowledging the frustrations that accompany any business – and the times she ran out the back door screaming, Cook said with a chuckle, she always ran right back in the front door, anxious to do it all over again.

The decision to close her business is bittersweet to say the least, Cook admitted. “I’ve lost both of my parents in the last year, which has been the most difficult thing I’ve ever experienced. It has drained me, but it has also opened my eyes to realize that life is too short and should not be taken for granted. If we, my husband and I, are going to have time to play, we’ve got to do it now. I’ve given half my life to this business.”

Initially, she considered selling the business outright, rather than close it, but for now, she’s just not sure, “unless the right buyer comes along.”

“It’s like selling my baby,” Cook admitted. I’ve loved her, worried over her, prayed over her and just cannot imagine anyone else taking her over. She’s not just a store – she’s got personality! I might sell the inventory, but just not sure I can sell her name.”

What does she plan to do once closed? “I really don’t know,” Cook responded. “For the first few years, I’ve got to play catch up and do things around the house that I’ve not been able to do. Plus, in addition to my sons, who were 3 and 5 when I opened the store, I now have three grandbabies and hope to spend more time with them.”

Reality has begun to sink in, Cook said. Tears well up in her eyes as she looks over her store, contemplating the photos on the wall of beaming brides and the countless notes, calls and visits that have begun filtering in.

Despite having hoped to make it to the 30-year mark, “It’s just time,” she said. “Thank you, Boone, and all my brides for 29 wonderful years.”

 Did Someone Say Party? Is located at 685 W. King St. in Boone. Business Hours: Monday through Friday 10:00 am to 5:30 p.m.; Saturday 10:00 am- 4:00 pm. Closed Sunday.

For more information, call (828) 264-7307.